Getting your teeth cleaned at the dentist can be expensive, especially if you do not have dental insurance. If you can't afford to go to the dentist, but still want to make sure your teeth are clean and cavity-free, perform an at-home checkup yourself. Remember that it will not be as thorough or as effective as a dentist's checkup, but it can be a temporary alternative to go to the dentist while you are not able to afford it.
Sterilize your equipment. Place your tools in boiling water or the dishwasher to clean them. Do not use dental equipment that has been used by someone else, even someone in your family. Purchase dental tools at your local drugstore, medical supply store or online.
Examine your mouth with a metal dental mirror. If you see any holes or chips, poke them with your metal dental pick to see if you experience any pain. If you feel any pain, see a dentist as soon as possible.
Scrape your teeth, playing close attention to between your teeth and around the gums, with the metal dental pick. You should not be scraping hard enough to make yourself bleed or to feel pain. Use the dental mirror and a bathroom mirror for precision.
Rinse with water to remove the plaque from your mouth.
Brush your teeth with an electric toothbrush and prophy paste. Prophy paste is the toothpaste that dentists use at checkups, but should not be used more than once every 6 months, because it is a strong abrasive. It will remove surface stains and excess plaque. You can purchase prophy paste at medical supply stores and online.
Floss your teeth. Insert the floss gently into the spaces between your teeth. Rinse after flossing.
Use these tips as a transition between dental visits---this should not be your primary form of dental care.
If you see or feel anything that is swollen or painful, see a dentist immediately.
Megan Smith has been a freelance writer and editor since 2006. She writes about health, fitness, travel, beauty and grooming topics for various print and Internet publications. Smith earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in writing from New York University.